Robert Clarke To “B” or Not to “B” – A Film Actor’s Odyssey
By Robert Clarke & Tom Weaver
Published by Midnight Marquee, 1996, 247 pages
Robert Clarke was one of those actors that I knew was in a couple of those cheap B movies from yesteryear, such as The Hideous Sun Demon, which is fondly made fun of in It Came From Hollywood. But it is amazing how much you can learn about a person when you actually look into it. And by reading Clarke’s biography, I did just that. Clarke was a man that love acting and struggled to have a career as an actor. He appeared along side of some of Hollywood biggest stars in some huge movies. But ask most people his name and you’ll get a blank stare. his is surprising as is it a bit sad.
Clarke had over 150 appearances in movies and television shows. He worked regularly in movies, whether it was a small role or just a guy standing in the background. But he made a career out of it. And this book gives us the story on how and why he did it, giving us a great insight to what it was like to be an actor struggling to keep working, always looking for that big break. Clarke shows us that he wasn’t the kind of actor that would only play the lead or good roles (when he could get them). He was the kind of guy that wanted to work. No matter what the job was. In this book, he has some great stories about some of the bigger names that he had worked with throughout his career, names like Boris Karloff and John Wayne, which taught him about the kind of actor and person that he wanted to be.
The only criticism I could give this book, which would only be to big horror fans, is that not much of the book is covered on his horror and sci-fi pictures. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few chapters on his films like Hideous Sun Demon, but there is also a lot covering his early career and the tons of westerns that he appeared in. So it is still a great read and really gives you an insight to someone who worked for years in the movie business, but never made it. Makes you think though….if he was able to work through all those years, and he made a few films that fans like us are still watching, then I think he really did make an impact. Which is a lot compared to the countless other nameless actors that have appeared in movies over the years.